LIVING BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
From the Desk of Sarah Nadler Troutdale, Oregon
As always, when I encounter a problem that seems to be prevalent among my clients...or occurs in my own life, I like to share the solutions I find with YOU.
At the beginning of this month, I personally struggled with anxiety & depression on top of some major barriers in my business.
So I thought I would share with you how I use KPIs (statistics) to measure my growth...
...but also how these numbers help me battle anxiety, depression and being too hard on myself.
One of the first barriers I encountered as a business owner, clear back in 2006 when I first began supporting myself with my own business, was self-esteem.
I was waaaay too hard on myself! Have you been there?
Whenever something didn't go exactly the way I expected, the internal monologue would start: I can't do this. I'm not good enough. It's all my fault.
The fact that my parents were relying on my to support myself, so they could care for my ten-year-old sister and pay for her cancer treatment, made it a REALLY BIG DEAL if I didn't hit revenue targets in my business.
That's a LOT of stress for anyone at eighteen.
But I managed it, and here's how:
For those who are new to the blog, Sarah Nadler is a Life Coach & inspirational speaker with twelve years of experience helping clients reach relationship, career and Big Hairy Audacious life goals. Her work has been featured on Enterprise Podcast Network, The Sierra Leone Times, and her latest book Walking Past Expectations was rated #6 on Lifney's list of Best Books to Read On The Beach This Summer 2019.
Before you can use statistics effectively in your business, or work out your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you have to be super clear on WHO you serve, and WHAT the end-result or transformation you cause will be.
Transformation: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
What transformation do you cause in your business?
Plumber: A fully-repaired plumbing system that works, and a happy client who wants to refer their friends or family.
Cook: Tasty nutritious food that pleases all the senses (look, taste, smell, texture).
Doctor: Happy patients who have been properly-diagnosed and treated to a good result of improved wellness.
Author: Published books that communicate a message and create a positive emotional impact on the reader.
All of these transformations have a few things in common:
And finally, we have the idea of exchange - the product or service has to be in the hands of the person it serves before it can be considered valuable.
Now, the ENTIRE purpose of KPIs or statistics, is to measure your progress toward something. If you haven't written the ending (where you are going) there will be nothing to measure.
So, sit down and write out a goal - any goal. Any goal is better than nothing!
Then, figure out what the business SHOULD look like, if everything were running perfectly. If you have your transformation all worked out, this shouldn't be too difficult.
You have to write out a goal, and picture the ideal day - what would it look like? What would you be spending your time on? Is that realistic?
A great method of doing this is to tour a top industry-leader in your zone. Who is doing this well? What do they spend time on?
Once you have that ideal day worked out, now we can come up with some statistics to measure your progress in that direction.
Now, you're probably wondering, what does this have to do with depression, imposter-syndrome, and that nagging voice that keeps telling me I can't do this?
Well, guess what: when you have a dashboard like the one I keep, you can't fool yourself anymore.
You need to have measurable yardsticks in your business - so you can't cheat, and so you can stop beating yourself up over nothing.
That's what statistics do: they make you face the facts.
If you're running your business based on your 'gut', your heart, or your instincts alone...you're going to make mistakes.
Leaving your entire livelihood up to chance isn't a wise choice!
Or maybe you don't even trust your gut anymore, because you've made so many mistakes that you're now using the "throw it all at the wall and hope something sticks" method.
It's heartbreaking to watch a business owner do this, because the solution is so simple.
Statistic management, coupled with the exact formulas of what to do when the numbers go up or down, takes about 90% of chance out of running a business.
Common business advice tells us that of all the statistics you could measure, only a few are key to the success of your business at any given time.
The difficulty lies in choosing the right ones, but it is actually quite simple.
If you have completed steps one and two, choosing the right KPIs for your business will be easy - all you need is to decide which numbers will speak the loudest.
In other words, let us say your goal is to hit $1M in revenue this year. Right away we see that Revenue is one of your KPIs.
Or perhaps you are running a nonprofit, and your goal is to serve 100k children with educational materials this year. Your first KPI then would be 'Number of Children Reached'.
Breaking this down further, we create a list of ALL the lower-echelon statistics you will need to measure your progress toward Revenue, or toward Number of Children Reached.
In other words, what needs to happen for you to make revenue? Well, you need a certain number of clients, or a certain amount of delivery and fulfillment. Those would be your other KPIs.
Congratulations! You now have numbers to keep track of. Lol.
Now, you could put them all in a spreadsheet, or keep your finances in QuickBooks, your sales numbers in your CRM and the rest on sticky notes...
(but that system sucks)
So let me show you how I create a dashboard to make my KPIs visible every month...
...and how that helps me battle depression and imposter-syndrome in my business!
You see, if you're anything like me, you probably have the tendency to panic every once in a while.
I'm not making any impact in life.
Are we going to be able to pay the bills this month??
Why do I work so hard...nothing ever seems to make a difference!
I remember the third month after I started my own coaching business. I had been working in corporate as a business consultant, and decided it was time to strike out on my own...and then COVID hit.
I completely panicked!
Halfway through the month, I almost gave up completely.
Luckily, my hubby Ben talked me out of it, but I still finished the month out totally certain that I must be the worst business owner who ever existed.
Yet, when I added up the numbers and hit 'refresh' on my dashboard...I had highest-ever numbers in my business!
You read that right: the month COVID hit was my highest-ever month so far. And it has continued to go up from there.
The fact is: if I had listened to my panicking 'gut', I would have given up.
Instead, with the help of Ben I made the right business decision, and am soo grateful for it now!
If you've read this far you are probably wondering, well that's great, but how do I do it?
In order to start making smart business decisions, and not relying on your gut, your heart or instinct alone to see you through, you will first need a Customer Relationship Software (CRM).
This is a very important platform for any business, no matter what size!
It allows you to keep track of potential customers, send proposals or quotes, track whether they open it, and respond to them when they do. The best CRM software out there for professional service-based businesses is HoneyBook.
HoneyBook is the one I use, and it has automated workflows, branded emails and beautiful digital brochures that have helped me close clients month after month since I started my business!
It also works seamlessly with my email system, scheduling tool and website to limit the amount of repetitive nonsense I have to do.
Best of all, it has a basic accounting system, which I use in place of QuickBooks! So it actually saves me tons of money while making me more of it.
The other system I find incredibly useful for keeping track of numbers in my business is UseMyStats. They have a free and a paid version, but I have never needed to upgrade. The free version has complete functionality, but it is limited to 10 graphs.
This is the system I use to create my dashboard, which serves the dual purpose of keeping me pointed at my goals, and also boosting my morale when I need it, as I told you!
No matter what systems you use in your business, the most important thing is to keep your data in graphs, not just a spreadsheet or buried inside Quickbooks.
Only when you can see at a single glance whether you are making progress or not, will you be able to make smart business decisions.
A PASSION FOR ABLE PEOPLE
I'm Sarah Nadler and I help small business owners achieve work/life balance by increasing their revenues in a way that does not decrease their time.